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Century Series facts for kids

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Clockwise from bottom: F-104 Starfighter, F-100 Super Sabre, F-102 Delta Dagger, F-101 Voodoo, and F-105 Thunderchief

Century Series is the nickname of a group of fighter aircraft built in USA for the Cold War. It was all aircraft with number 100 in the code.

The Century Series is a popular name for a group of US fighter aircraft representing models designated between F-100 and F-106 which went into full production. They included the first successful supersonic designs in the United States Air Force's service, which remained in active service well into the 1970s and 1980s with the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard. Three later variants, the QF-100, QF-102 and QF-106 also continued in drone service, primarily as aerial targets, until the late 1990s.

Century Series aircraft

The name "Century Series" stems from the fighter (F-) designation number being in the 100-109 range. The term became popular to refer to a group of generally similar designs of the 1950s and early 1960s.

As it evolved, the attribution of the Century Series moniker reflects models designated between F-100 and F-106 which went into full production:

  • North American F-100 Super Sabre
  • McDonnell F-101 Voodoo
  • Convair F-102 Delta Dagger
  • Lockheed F-104 Starfighter
  • Republic F-105 Thunderchief
  • Convair F-106 Delta Dart

Characteristics

North American F-100D Super Sabre USAF
USAF "Thunderbirds" F-100D

The Century Series aircraft represented a mix of fighter-bombers (F-100, F-101A, F-105) and interceptors (F-101B, F-102, F-104, F-106).

The unifying characteristic of the Century Series aircraft was advanced performance and avionics when they were introduced. The F-100 was the first aircraft in the USAF capable of exceeding the speed of sound in level flight. The F-101 was the first aircraft in the USAF capable of exceeding 1,000 mph (1,600 km/h). The F-102 was the first aircraft in the world to utilize area rule in its design. Three of the Century Series aircraft — F-101, F-102, and F-106 — were armed with nuclear air-to-air missiles. These weapons, designed to destroy incoming nuclear-armed Soviet bombers even when not scoring a clear hit (due to the nuclear explosion radius, shock wave and radiation burst), were the only nuclear weapons in USAF arsenal at the time to be under sole control of their pilots (during a mission).

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